Muzzy Language System

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Jan 2007

I have recently seen a product called MUZZY geared towards teaching children a foreign language. I am interested in teaching my child Spanish. Has anyone had any success or failure with this product? Wanting to be bilingual

We used Muzzy Italian when our kids were preschool/kindergarten age. While we liked it a lot, there were two problems: like most videos your kids get into, after awhile it got old for them and they didn't want to watch it anymore. Second, Muzzy is a monster, and even though he's pretty non-threatening, my son was scared of him and left the room during any scene featuring Muzzy. I suggest finding a used copy, or borrowing one and trying it out before you make the investment. anon
We tried the Muzzy French CDs and, well, I wouldn't say they were overwhelmingly successful. They were pretty boring and our kid was happier watching Baby Einstein or other programs. But if you really want to give it a try, contact me and maybe we can work something out with ours... Best of luck, Sharma
My kids love Muzzy in German. They are picking up words and meaning and a few sentences. Interesting I think it was originaly done in English by the BBC. Anon
My son loves our German Muzzy DVDs. We started using them when he turned 3, and it is amazing how, after watching it just a few times, he was repeating words and then incorporating them correctly in casual conversation. The quality of the DVD is definitely a surprise; it must be from the early 1970s and to adults, it seemes very goofy, but it works. The stories are organized well, and the language examples make sense in terms of a learning progression. I think it's a great product. Leila
Jan 2003

Does anyone have experience with the Muzzy language system, especially the French videos, cds, or dvds? We've consulted the old postings but would still like more information. We're thinking of buying it for our 1 year old, but it seems rather expensive. Both of us parents speak French, though not regularly in the home. We'd like to expose our son to a foreign language earlier rather than later, but aren't sure what age is appropriate. Thanks! anon.

We have the Muzzy language program in French, with the Italian and Spanish add-ons. Our kids did enjoy the program quite a bit, and they actually did pick up enough to use and understand a fair amount of basic vocabulary when we travelled a few years ago. However, they were older, about 5 and 8 years old, and also it undoubtedly helped I speak French fluently and my husband and I use French as a ''secret'' language which they often hear; we both speak passable Italian, I speak Spanish, and the kids hear us using these languages with friends.

Muzzy is a cartoon - I can't recommend parking a one year old in front of the television even if the goal is to learn a language. Babies and toddlers learn through interaction, not through watching a screen. (As you probably know, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for ages 2 and under) The Muzzy program also comes with cassette tapes or CDs, which you could play to the child, I suppose, but it would just be meaningless sound. My sister-in-law bought tapes with sounds of all the languages of the world in hopes that her child would somehow familiarize herself with them. I don't think it does any harm but I don't think it does much good either. My graduate work was in linguistics: language is meant to be a meaningful system of sounds used for communication and social interaction. Television can provide exposure to a language but an interactive method is better. If one of you is truly bilingual, you can choose to speak to your child in a language other than english, while the other parent consistently speaks English.

Otherwise, I'd wait until your child is at least two, and preferably three, before starting with Muzzy. It's a cute program, engaging for kids, and other than the stereotyped gender roles (the men are brave, strong, or clever, the women are worried about their weight and appearance), it's a good introduction to a language. Natasha

We have used the French Muzzy system for our 5 year old for the last 2 years and love it. She uses it quite frenquently. She is a student at the French American school in Berkeley and Muzzy is also available in their library. However, I would not recommend it for a child as young as 1 as the characters Muzzy & Korvacs (an evil character) may be a bit scary for a child that age. At 3 1/2 our daughter had nightmares about both characters as well as the story line which involves the capture by Korvacs of the Princess Slyvie. The story line also leave something to be desired re the images of women (but that is a whole other story). We were willing to put up with it with various cautions to our daughter about the roles of women in the story line. You may want to try other language programs for your one year old such as the Jumpstart language series computer programs. Brainy Baby also makes a French language video for 1-5 year olds which may be more appropriate for you. You can also get the cartoon series Caillou in French. You can search for ordering information on the Web as well as for other resources for French language learning for kids. There is a ton of information out there. Just try searching through Google or some other search engine. Best of luck and enjoy. Anon
We ordered the Muzzy (French) video tapes on their free 30 day trial. I have felt on the fence about it, since it's ridiculously expensive, and we are pretty broke. My son, just 2 when we first got it, fell in love. (This was also a dilemma for me; we'd avoided most TV watching up till then, and I was pretty ambivalent about starting this up.) He wanted Muzzy all the time. We actually decided to return it (haven't done it yet; it's a long story), since the audio quality of the video was pretty distorted. However, I'm now thinking instead of going for the DVD version. I feel admittedly stupid about this, since - again - the price is outrageous, and the animation is very low level. The reason I'm considering keeping it is that in the very short time my son was watching it, he was picking up a lot of language. I speak French, and to him, but I'd like him to have more exposure at this age. While the visuals leave a lot to be desired (except for a delightful character who interjects lessons throughout), the songs are not bad - important, since you'll have them stuck in your head all day. I think one of my main complaints is that the story line is pretty sexist. When introducing the characters, the male characters get to be ''brave'', ''courageous'', and ''clever'', while the female ones get to be ''fat'', and ''beautiful''. This still burns me. I just hope that I can have discussions about this with my son as he becomes more aware. I think when it comes down to it, I'll keep it since I have not come up with any better replacements, and I really do want him exposed to another language at an early age. Please contact me if you want more input! Jenny
My daughter (2.5) loves the Muzzy videos, and now I am hearing her sing the songs and use words in Spanish. Mainly, she is testing out what she has learned. For me, it is great. I speak Spanish, but with a horrible accent, and I don't have the self- discipline to do it regularly. The Muzzy tapes give us a place to start. She tests out what she learns, and then we talk about the tape in Spanish. (Yes - there is the whole sexist thing, but that theme is in a LOT of children's stuff, so we just work hard to point out better role models and show that all people have different interests regardless of gender. If she doesn't see the stereotypes in Muzzy, she will see them somewhere else, so we have to counteract it anyway!)

However, for a 1 year old, it might not be that exciting. When my daughter was 1, she loved the Bilingual Baby series. It is all live-action with clips of children doing everyday activities. They first introduce words, then phrases, then complete sentences. This is all accompanied by classical music. My daughter learned to count to ten in Japanese with this tape before she turned two. She still loves to watch it too! The series comes in 12 languages now. Jaime

May 2000

Is anyone familiar with the Muzzy Language system? I'd like any positive or negative reviews, also looking for a second-hand French Level 1 edition (assuming it's worthwhile). Nancy

My daughter has been using Muzzy for a year or so. We don't use it very diligently but she really enjoys the tapes. She really isn't speaking spanish but she definately understands what is going on when she watches the video. I would reccommend it but it does require a good deal of discipline on the part of the parent. Gabrielle

Muzzy is great! My 3 year old loves her Level 1 Spanish set. (My 15 year old used the Muzzy Tapes 7 or 8 years ago in her Spanish Immersion classes in Davis.) After about 3 months, my younger daughter is starting to speak the occasional word in Spanish. We have used the videos fairly regularly (though not as often as the first week, where she refused to watch anything else!).

We haven't yet used the CD rom, though I should get that out now that her computer is functional. We also read to her in Spanish (Harold and The Purple Crayon, and Harry the Dirty Dog among others), and they study it a bit in her Preschool. With even more support, she'd probably make even more progress. But we think it's all working fairly well. I recommend them. Dawn

I bought Muzzy Level 1 for my 4 year old. I felt it was quite expensive for what we got, essentially 2 30 minute video cassettes.Extras include the videos in english (which you are not supposed to watch), a vocabulary video (which we don't watch at this point), audiocassettes (of the same story) in spanish and also a cd rom.

However, my son loves watching Muzzy and has picked up some spanish. The videos are divided into 10 minute segments and we have incorporated them into our bedtime routine. we watch a single muzzy episode for an entire week; repetition is important. We've been watching the same six segments for about 6 months now, and he still greatly enjoys them. One night a week, we watch the english version. I decided to do this because I felt my son needed some context for understanding it. We have really limited his tv viewing and i felt some of the storyline was maybe out of his experience: the princess loves the gardener and the gardener has to go to jail.

I think watching the video has accostumed his ear to hearing Spanish and that has been valuable; I don't have a good place for him to be exposed much to the Spanish language at this point, so that is valuable. I've been thinking of taping Dragontales in Spanish (on PBS), and doing the same thing with the repetition. That might be a cheaper option.

Muzzy is the BBC Language Course, aimed at children from 1-10 years old. It's available in Spanish, French, German, and Italian (and a limited selection of items in Irish Gaelic, Welsh, and Japanese). You can get more information and order it from their web site: Dawn

We looked at the Muzzy tapes for German- the videos themselves (Level 1 & 2) are well done and captivate the interest of at least a toddler (don't have older kids). The accompanying CDs (computer games) were pretty useless and the vocabulary builder was dreadfully dull... in short, part of it was worthwhile, but not worth the overall price, which is something like $150 for each level. If you can get it used, it's probably worth it.
We got the Muzzy tapes (Spanish) for our 2yo. The story is quite accessible to a wide range of age groups. I don't expect that our daughter will learn much Spanish, but she will learn that other languages exist, enjoy watching the tapes, and pick up a few words and phrases. I think that the cognitive process involved in associated more than one phrase for a single concept (English and Spanish) is of benefit in itself.

The tapes cover the hardest parts: prepositions, the verb 'to be' and some questions (who, what, where). I think that more depth is required if one were to try to learn a language seriously. The tapes come with a CD-ROM. Be warned that it's windows only. I called them and they promised a Mac OS version soon. John